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From a Bare Hull:  Finish Primer (Hull & Deck)

Finishing Primer

After a few weeks of significant work on deck, it was time to apply the final coats of primer to both hull and deck in preparation for final paint later on.  The next product in the Alexseal family was the 401 series of finishing primers, designed to provide a very smooth, even surface for the high gloss topcoat.

Click here for more about the Alexseal finishing primer.

Before beginning any final cleaning or preparations on deck, I spent most of the day giving the shop a thorough cleaning from top to bottom, a laborious process that included removing extraneous clutter and boat/shop gear, blowing down the walls, lights, and floor, and sweeping and vacuuming every surface to rid them of accumulated dust and debris.   This took about six hours.

The existing high-build primer had become rather dirty in places on deck, and particularly in the cockpit, thanks to my heavy foot traffic during many of the construction projects since application.  To prepare for the primer, after vacuuming up the dust I first washed the decks with a spray detergent and towels to remove the worst of the dirt.  Then, I used a two-cloth method and washed the surfaces thoroughly with Alexseal surface cleaner, a strong solvent designed to remove grease, finger oil, and other contaminants.  Using two cloths--one soaked in the solvent to wipe, then a dry cloth to wipe off the solvent before it dried--I washed the entire hull and deck, removing most of the remaining stains and noticeably dirty areas.

There wasn't much taping to be done, but I had to mask off the stem casting and breast hook, cover the cabin trunk with tape and plastic, and covered the engine room hatches and lazarette opening.  There was no need for tape on the hull at this point.  When the taping was complete, I cleaned the surfaces a final time, and prepared the primer and equipment for the next day's priming marathon.

Just before applying primer, I tacked off the hull and deck with a tack cloth to remove any final dust.  I found to my dismay that my spray gun had become clogged with old paint, as it seemed I had failed to give it a thorough cleaning after finishing up with the high build primer some weeks earlier.  This was annoying, and I was angry with myself for allowing this error (and for not more thoroughly checking the equipment the day before; I was tired, I guess).

In any event, I had to tear the gun down and clean out the tip and other parts.  Even with this, the gun just didn't spray properly all day, though it was adequate to get the job done.  The next day, I found that an air fitting at the top of the gravity-feed container was badly clogged with old paint; after cleaning that out, the gun finally seemed work properly again.  Live and learn.

With the gun problems behind me, I commenced spraying.  As before, I began in the cockpit well, and sprayed three separate coats on all surfaces.  For this primer, I decided to use two different colors:  white and light gray.  By alternating colors between coats, it made it much easier to see where I had sprayed and how good the coverage was.  I had found in earlier jobs that it was extremely difficult to monitor subsequent primer coats when they were all the same color.  I began with a coat of white primer, then switched to light gray for the second coat, and finally white again for the third coat.  This worked very well.

With the cockpit done, I moved on to the foredeck and sidedecks, applying three alternating coats and waiting up to an hour between coats, as directed.  Finally, I moved the staging down to a lower level and sprayed three alternating coats on the hull.  The entire process took about nine hours total from start to finish, including down time between coats.  I was exhausted.

After a day "off" in order to spray the other boat in the shop (for which I repeated the entire process described above), I returned and began to sand the hull primer.  Sanding was critical, since the quality of the high-gloss finish coat would depend entirely upon the quality of the substrate beneath.  I used a small 3M soft foam block and 220 grit paper for the initial sanding, followed by a sanding with 320 on the block as well.  This worked very well, and required about four to five hours to sand the entire hull.  I hand sanded because I felt that mechanical means might remove too much material.  Hand sanding was easy to control, and I was extremely pleased with the end result.

The surface was extremely smooth and even, and appeared abundantly fair.  With the hull done, and my arms ready to fall off, I waited till the next day to sand the decks, where I repeated the sanding process described above.  Virtually the entire deck would be painted with nonskid paint, so the sanding didn't need to be quite as meticulous as that on the hull.  Still, I tried to flatten and smooth the surface as much as possible, but saw no need for the attention to detail as on the hull.

Next:  topcoats!  Click here to continue.>



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